How does it feel to be a patient?
The Empathy Zone at Patient Experience Week 2016 gave staff and students at Counties Manukau Health the opportunity to experience healthcare from a patient’s perspective.
“We can never fully experience what another person feels, but we can expose ourselves to part of their experience so that we can empathise,” says Dr Lynne Maher, Director of Innovation at Ko Awatea.
Participants in the Empathy Zone experienced being strapped to a tilt table, which is a piece of equipment physiotherapists use to help patients with stroke and spinal injury to move from lying flat to an upright position. They also tried using walking frames and a mobility scooter.
Healthcare staff work with patients who have to use this equipment every day. Understanding how it feels to experience these things is crucial to develop empathy.
Students of the Maori Health Science Academy at Alfriston College were special guests at the event.
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“It was weird,” said Louisa, a member of the student delegation. “When you can’t do something that other people can, it feels like you’re disadvantaged. Knowing how that feels is really important for young kids so they can develop compassion for other people. It’s been really important for me personally and I wish other kids got to experience this as well.”
The Empathy Zone forms part of Patient Experience Week, a programme of activities held between the 7th and 11th of March that focusses on patients, whaanau (family) and staff working together to improve services and care delivery.